The effect of a single aerobic training session on cognitive flexibility in late middle-aged adults

Int J Sports Med. 2007 Jan;28(1):82-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-924027.


Research has shown that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function, specifically executive functions. This study examines the effect of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility - an executive function - in late middle-aged individuals. Fourteen men and 45 women aged 50 - 64, were randomly assigned to moderate exercise (60 % of heart rate reserve), moderately-intense (70 % of heart rate reserve) exercise, and movie-watching control groups after a maximal exercise test. Prior to and following the exercise or control sessions participants performed two cognitive tasks: the Alternate Uses assessing cognitive flexibility and the Digit Span Forward subtest from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Revised assessing attention span. Results indicated significant improvement in Alternate Uses in the exercise groups but not in the control group. No group differences were indicated on the Digit Span. These results provide partial support for the benefit of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged